Mother of two Karen Roberts has found her true passion sewing vintage-inspired clothing from home for her business Brydie Alice Handmade.
Karen Roberts’ interest in handmade clothing began when, as a child, she used to hand stitch outfits for her Barbie dolls from scraps of fabric. Poor Barbie had some questionable outfits back then but it gave Karen the basics to get into sewing in a big way when she went on maternity leave from teaching secondary school to have her first child, Euan, now 9.
“I bought a secondhand Bernina sewing machine for the grand total of $25 and a very good friend and colleague, who is a Home Economics teacher, showed me how to use it,” Karen says.
“I’ve always had a creative streak and completed a Visual Arts degree as well as my Graduate Bachelor of Education. The lure of fabric, with all its gorgeous colours, patterns and textures, drew me in.”
“It is like a fabric-nerd’s jackpot when you find something you’ve had in your stash forever that co-ordinates perfectly with something you’ve got in mind.”
Karen began her sewing journey with making children’s outfits then moved on to women’s clothing, starting with easy beginner patterns. She founded her business, Brydie Alice Handmade, in 2013. Her business name reflects her brand’s style – feminine and vintage-inspired.
“I started my women’s collection with a basic shift-style dress and an A-line skirt, both of which had pockets because who doesn’t love a pocket?” Karen says.
“I’ve moved on from these styles and my collection continues to evolve to include a variety of dresses, skirts and shorts, but one thing remains the same – I use cotton fabric. It’s great for our climate and washes and irons well.”
Karen loves to make styles that flatter a woman’s shape and offers sizes 8–18. She also strives to create one-of-a-kind clothing so her customers are buying a unique garment.
“It’s a wonderful feeling when a lady tries that garment on and her face lights up,” Karen says. “I love the fact that something I cut, assemble and sew can have such a positive response from someone. Many of my clients are repeat customers and have become friends.”